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History of the Rolex Anchor
Submariner steel
Submariner gold
Sea-dweller
Tudor
Fake anchors
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Sometime around 2005 Rolex decided no longer to issue the anchor with its submariners and sea-dwellers. However, if your AD still has them in stock, and some still have until this day even in 2012, you might be lucky. And that also explains why it is very difficult to combine an anchor with the correct sub. Always realise that the 2 do not come from the same factory. So it is up to your dealer if he has not been mixing up old anchors with new subs or the other way around. The following information is based on experience rather than hard science.

Personally I would have liked to see the deepsea with a correct anchor and all future subs as well....


The Submariner stainless steel

It all started in the early fifties with the introduction of the submariner. It is still debated whether the 6200, 6204 or the 6205 was the first submariner. Interestingly, the latter was certified to a depth of 200meters/660feet. However, the earliest anchor ever to accompany the submariner was rated to a depth of 100meters/330feet and was issued with the 6536 and later by the 5508. These anchors are so rare that when they do come up for sale the price exceeds a thousand us dollars easily. The following pics are from www.astorlive.com and www.watchestobuy.com

Secondly came the anchor rating a depth of 200meters/660feet and was accompanied by a few more models than its predecessor. It came with the models 5510, 5512, 5513, 1680 and maybe even with the 5517. It is still a very collectible anchor and sells for as much as a few hundred dollars on ebay. This type of anchor was produced for a decade or two from the mid sixties to the eighties. Over the years a minor evolution was inevitable. The earliest ones have a much thicker font and crown than the later ones. Also the cord it is attached to consists of three threads rather than the multi-threads later on.

Red submariners sometimes had a copper anchor instead of a steel one. It also seems only US red subs had this privilige. This photo was sent to me by user Henrik (Denmark) from www.vintagerolexforum.com. The anchor was part of my personal collection.

A little later the font used for stamping the anchors got thinner. Also the cord changed to a multi-thread type.

Late eighties the only submariner left with plexi and a depth rating to 200m was the non date 5513. They were accompanied by the same anchor as above, but then with a chain instead of a string/cord and also came in a plastic pouch (with an embossed anchor on it. Only seen in combination with the 200m anchor, not the more common 300m and 1220m!)

We now jump to the early eighties when Rolex started using sapphire as opposed to plexi. Movements upgraded to quick set 3035 caliber and more importantly for the anchors, the depth rating was added with another 100 meters. First Rolex still used the matt dial with the big white hour markers, model 16800. The anchor to match the new depth rate probably wasn't ready. So Rolex used the old 200m/660ft anchors and put a green dot on top with the correct depth rating of 300m and 1000feet.

A little later on in the eighties (around 86/87) Rolex introduced the glossy dial with the white gold lining around the hour markers. I like to believe that at this time the anchor was finally ready and lost its green inlay/dot. It still had the string attached. The reference of the model went up from 16800 to 168000.

Late eighties/early nineties the string was replaced by a chain and the achor was presented in a plastic pouch. These are the most common anchors and are widely available at low cost. These anchors came with the following models: 16610/16613/14060(M). The first generation of these anchors had a flat three (for 300). Later models a round three (for 300).

By the time the submariner was celebrating its 50th birthday Rolex introduced a new type of anchor with a bar at the end of the chain. The round three was back to flat.Also the anchor is quite a bit longer.

And then on ebay an anchor pops up with a round three and bar at the end of the chain. No idea if these are aftermarket or that even for the short period of time that these anchors were produced they underwent the same evolution as the 300m anchor and 200m tudor anchor. I personally believe these are fake anchors.


The submariner gold

The 1680/8 model was the first submariner to be produced in 18 kt gold. So a special gold coloured anchor was produced to go with it. 

Early eighties the 18kt changed from plexi to saphire just as the steel one. The reference changed to 16808 and the gold coloured anchor got a green dot/inlay over the old 200m/660ft anchor.

After the green inlay was replaced by an anchor with the correct depth rating 300m/1000ft the string was not immediately replaced by a chain. Also the new dial was introduced, but nipple dials were still very common until late R serialnumbers. The newer dial has a gold lining around the hour markers. The reference is still 16808. This unlike the steel sub that evolved to 168000.

Around 1991 the current 16618 was introduced. The anchor was presented in a plastic pouch. Again same as the steel submariners the first anchors had a flat three for indicating 300. Later ones a round three.

The latest ones (116618) had a bar at the end of the chain and are larger than the previous anchors. The three indicating 300meters  is back to flat.


The Sea-dweller

During the late sixties, early seventies the nowadays well sought after sea-dweller 1665 was launched. Whether this model had an anchor to accompany the revolutionary depth rating has been a question for me for some time. But then I found it. Rolex used the steel anchor with a depth rating of 200m/660ft and put green dot on top with the correct 610meters/2000feet. Rarity comes at a price and this anchor will set you back a thousand us dollars if you are lucky enough to find one. Pics are (again) from www.astorlive.com

The sea-dweller got through the same transformation as the submariner did. A new reference 16660 was introduced with a depth rating of 1220meters/4000ft. It still had a matt dial for a while and again the 200meters/660feet anchors were used. Again the green dot was used, but now with 1220 and 4000 depth rating.

Only a few years after introducing the 16660 the dial was replaced by a glossy version with the white gold hour marker lining. The reference number stayed the same (tripple six). I like to believe that at this time the anchor was finally ready and got the correct depth stamped on it. The string was still attached to it, no chain yet.

Then the sea-dweller evolved to the 16600. The anchor was chained and came in a plastic pouch.


The Tudor Submariner

Last but not least let us not forget the anchor that was accompanied by the submariners produced by Tudor. I have only come across one depth rating to 200meters/660feet. But there are at least two variations of this anchor. One with a flat 2 (for 200) and a later one with a round 2 (again for 200). The first anchor is for the tudor subs during the eighties and the second one for tudor subs in the nineties.


flat 200                                                                    round 200

 

 


 

Fake anchors

I have to be really careful and have no intention to discredit anyone. But more and more often I see anchors for sale that just do not look right. The following anchors are frequently offered for sale by the same sellers from Asia. But now also in Germany and Italy I see 100+ feedback sellers trying to flog questionable anchors:

Example 1: 200 m/660ft anchor. It looks like the same measurement as the latest anchors with a bar at the end of the chain. Stem is too long and font is all wrong.

Example 2
This one is very questionable. If could be for a 116618, but why do they come up for sale only now and not 10 years ago?

Example 3

I am pretty sure that this anchor was never issued with a sea-dweller. Again it is the same size as example 1 and 2. So that makes me suspicious. Als the bar at the end is new to me. Why have I never seen that 10 years ago?

Yes I could be wrong. And please do correct me if I am.